The Weekly Newsletter of Educational Alternatives -
AERO Conference Auction and Feedback
Sugata Mitra has a dialog with Yaacov Hecht, who sent a powerful presentation from Korea to the AERO Conference


W e're following up on the fantastic AERO conference. The feedback has been glowing. If you were there but missed some keynotes or workshops, you can reserve some below. If you weren't there, you can reserve the ones that interest you or entire sets for great prices.   
Here you can still see  5 mini-videos  made by Bob Greenberg at the AERO conference, of Zoe Weill, Deborah Meier, Yaacov Hecht, Sugata Mitra, and Pat Farenga. This is an example of what you'll see in the full CDs and DVDs.


Here you can also see an array of pictures of the conference below (we've added more).  We have decided to keep the MineCraft server open until the next conference. Homeschoolers or schools can join it. 


Here's an example of some Comments by participants:  


I just wanted to say thank you so much for another year of the AERO Conference, an experience I hold dear to my heart each year. I am thankful you still held it even with the health challenges you faced this year. I know it's a lot of work, and I also know how much it means to you to keep connecting people who are searching for ways to "normalize" alternatives to traditional schools...."  

--Independent school director


"This year's conference has left me dazed and exhilarated with ideas and a new-found momentum..."

--Independent learning center director

"Thank you for your leadership! Amazing learning! I feel I've found a home!"  

--Public school principal


"This was my first time attending the Aero conference. It was AMAZING!  I am a special educator with 34 years experience with children between the ages of 3-21 years old."

 "We had a wonderful and inspiring time at AERO this past week. We came hoping to meet interesting people with visions for a more perfect world as well as engage with thoughts from experts in the industry. We felt completely fulfilled and inspired by the conference, way more than we could have expected. " --Camp director

 "It was 
more than a conference! For me it was an amazing encounter.

 --An encounter with so many great professionals willing to share ideas, knowledge, and our big passion for education.

--An encounter with other fantastic families, willing to share and learn new ways to keep accompanying their children.

--An encounter with young people, proving to us that another type of education is possible, that educating in life instead of educating for life is the way.  

--And getting romantic... an encounter with myself, as an educator and a mother. Getting so inspired, letting the courage and passion of others catch me."

--A mother from Spain


Children at Stomping Ground Camp


We had a  silent auction at the conference. One of the items that is still available is a week at  Stomping Ground Camp
in New Jersey. The directors were at the AERO conference. This is a rare camp that is in line with learner-centered approach. For example the campers make their own schedule. More than 50 are already signed up. So we are going to let you bid on the $500-$900 value by bidding by return mail to this e newsletter. It will be like closed bidding in that you will not know what others have bid. The highest bidder will be informed and can attend the camp. It is from June 21-27. The minimum is $200 and this will go to the AERO matching fund. 
AERO Conference DVD's and CD's
Choose AERO Conference CDs and DVDs
The following are the DVDs we have of our keynotes followed by the CDs of workshops and some keynotes. They have very high quality sound because we had a direct line from the sound feed. We will only make as many as people request by replying to this e mail. The entire set of keynotes will be $99. Individual keynotes will be $14. The set of the ten workshops will be $75. Individual workshops are $9 each. All 14 CD workshops and CD keynotes will be $99. 

In replying. just send us the list of numbers you want. You can just reply to this message or write to   We'll let you know what the total is and how to pay when they are made. Some are available right now (about 5 each). 
DVDs of Keynotes
1. Dialog Betweer Yaacov Hecht and Sugata Mitra
2. Sugata Mitra Keynote
3. Debbie Meier and Amy Valens Keynote (Good Morning Mission Hill)
4. Zoe Weil Keynote
5. Jeremy Stuart Keynote (Class Dismissed)
6. Nancy Tilton and Tomis Parker Keynote
7. NADEC Keynote
8. Thomas Capone (NYDLA) Lunch Keynote
9. Entire set of Keynote DVDs
CDs that we have so Far:
10. David Marshak: Introduction to Self Design
11. School Starters Workshop: Jerry Mintz and Chris Mercogliano
12. Robert's Rules for Kids: Ted Weisgal
13. Robert's Rules for Kids Part 2
14. The Real Maria Montessori: Mimosa Jones Tunney
15. Coming Alive with Full Circle Learning: Linda Aaronson
16. Stuart Grauer: Radical Boredom
17. Sudbury Model: Jeffrey Collins
18. Michel Foucault: Kirk Cunningham
19. Pat Farenga: Home Schooling Toward Positive Social Change
20. Debbie Meier & Amy Valens: Discussion of Mission Hill
21. Zoe Weil Keynote
22. Tom Capone Keynote
23. Sugata Mitra Keynote
24. Tomis and Nancy Keynote
25. Entire Set of 10 Workshops
26. Entire Set of 14 CD Workshops and CD Keynotes
Let the Kids Learn Through Play



TWENTY years ago, kids in preschool, kindergarten and even first and second grade spent much of their time playing: building with blocks, drawing or creating imaginary worlds, in their own heads or with classmates. But increasingly, these activities are being abandoned for the teacher-led, didactic instruction typically used in higher grades. In many schools, formal education now starts at age 4 or 5. Without this early start, the thinking goes, kids risk falling behind in crucial subjects such as reading and math, and may never catch up.

The idea seems obvious: Starting sooner means learning more; the early bird catches the worm.

But a growing group of scientists, education researchers and educators say there is little evidence that this approach improves long-term achievement; in fact, it may have the opposite effect, potentially slowing emotional and cognitive development, causing unnecessary stress and perhaps even souring kids' desire to learn.


Read the rest here.

Students describe 'triumph over tragedy'

By Joe Nathan


Recently I've heard and read some of the most powerful student essays I've encountered over more than 45 years of work with young people. Students presented them at a statewide conference attracting almost 300 students sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs.

Quietly, with little attention and sometimes with much less respect than is deserved, a portion of Minnesota public education has grown from serving about 4,000 students in 1988 to more than 162,000 students, full- and part-time.
According to Mary Barrie at the Minnesota Department of Education, in 2013-14 alternative schools served about 17 percent of Minnesota public school students. (More information about alternative programs is at

One of those students is Jessenia Kalstad. She became depressed when her father died. She planned to drop out, but her mother insisted she stay in school somewhere. Kalstad entered Ivan Sand Community High School in Elk River.

Read the rest here.
ALC Students Raise Money For Nepal Orphanage
Ed: So far we have raised $10,000 for the Sri Aurobindo Ashram/Orphanage earthquake recovery. we are still taking contributions for them. Here is the story of one young students project to help this cause. 

(Written by a 12 year old ALC Mosaic Student)

I didn't know anything about the earthquake. Facebook kept on giving me notifications to donate to some victims, so I finally clicked on the link to learn about what happened. The first picture I saw was one of a man and his wife, both crying and stumbling in the street. The damage was more than I thought could really happen. It was horrible! So I texted Nancy, saying that we should make a school fundraiser for Nepal. I wasn't sure what we should do to raise money, so I thought and thought.

I was playing MineCraft when my little sister, Elisha, showed me this super cool bookmark that she made up! I thought that they would be perfect to sell for the fundraiser, so I asked her. For two dollars I could copy her design, and I started making them the next day! Lots of kids at school helped and soon we had 15 waterproof bookmarks. Some with Nepal related things written and drawn on them, and some with just designs on them. Lots of kids have been helping with the bookmarks and we have lots! We are so excited to make a large donation to Sri Aurobindo!!

So far we have raised around $200 for Sri Aurobindo. We have been Uptown weekly for 3 weeks now, selling the bookmarks and accepting extra donations. It's awesome how many people opt to just donate without getting anything in return.

Email us at to figure out how to donate and receive a bookmark.

-Alona Fransen, 12

To donate directly to the Nepal Orphanage Earthquake Recovery Fund go here
NewsNews, Resources, & Calendar
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Thank you for your ongoing support. With your help, we will make learner-centered alternatives available to everyone!


Jerry Mintz
Executive Director
Alternative Education Resource Organization

tensignsThe Ten Signs You Need to Find a Different Kind of Education for Your Child
Many parents don't realize that the education world has changed drastically since they were in school. Schools and class sizes used to be smaller, dropout rates lower, in-school violence almost unheard of, and teachers weren't terrified of showing affection to their students, or of discussing moral values. Of course, even then, school was far from perfect, but at least the teachers-and usually the principal-knew every student by name, something that is increasingly rare today.

Because our public school system has deteriorated considerably, many parents, teachers, and individuals have taken it upon themselves to create public and private alternatives to that system; and it is important for parents to know that they now have choices.

So how do you know that it's time to look for another educational approach for your child? Here are some of the signs:

1. Does your child say he or she hates school?

If so, something is probably wrong with the school. Children are natural learners, and when they're young, you can hardly stop them from learning. If your child says they hate school, listen to them.  

May 31st, 2015
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